Thursday, March 24, 2022

What’s the ideal numbers of career trades for building an NHL all-star roster?

Another trade deadline has come and gone, and some players were traded while others weren’t. Hey, this feels like an excuse to build some rosters.

Today’s assignment will be to fill out rosters based on how many times a star player was traded during their NHL career. We’ll build a team out of guys who were never traded, one out of guys who were only ever traded once, plus teams for the two-timers, the three-timers, and the four-or-mores. Then we… well, we look at the rosters and argue about which one would win. That’s pretty much it. (Also, some of you will try to get Dom to use his model to deliver a mathematical answer, because he doesn’t have enough to do.) Basically, it should be a fun time waster for the post-deadline hangover period.

But first, a few ground rules:

  • Each team gets a 21-man roster with 12 forwards, six defensemen and three goalies. We’ll try to balance wingers and centers as best we can but won’t get too hung up on position.
  • To keep this somewhat modern and focused on guys you’ve heard of, we’re only going to use players who played in the NHL after 1970 (although trades before that can still count). Apologies to the one-trade team on missing out on Phantom Joe Malone. Also, active players are allowed as long as they’re reasonably deep into the careers.
  • We’re counting NHL trades only here. No WHA, junior, or whatever else. We’re also not counting trades that involved a draft pick that was ultimately used on a player. Tyler Seguin going from Boston to Dallas counts, but his pick going from Toronto to Boston does not.
  • A player doesn’t have to have actually suited up for a team for a trade to count, as long as it was an official deal that their name appeared in. All those post-career Coyotes cap deals are in play.
  • Finally, a very important rule that I’m breaking out the italics for: For the no-trade team, we are only counting guys who played for more than one team. We kind of have to, because otherwise the no-trade team will win in a walk with names like Lemieux, Lidstrom, Crosby, Ovechkin, Yzerman, Sakic, Bossy, Dryden… there’d be no point. The NHL has a long history of superstars playing their entire career for one franchise, and it would be no fun to just list all those guys on one team. You have to played for multiple teams to qualify, which makes this team a lot trickier.

As always, let’s go into this with some blind predictions. I’m betting that Team No-Trades struggles, Team One-Trade takes the crown, Team Two-Trade is solid, Team Three-Trade stinks, and Team Four-or-More is surprisingly feisty but ultimately bad.

Spoiler: We’ll see some overlap with this post from a few years ago, but not as much as you might think, because trades are weird. Got some rosters forming in your head already? Cool, let’s do this.

Team No-Trades

Remember, these guys have to have played for more than one team. That’s going to make this one tough… or will it?

Team No-Trades
Dave Keon
Bryan Trottier
Gordie Howe
Paul Kariya
Mike Modano
John Tavares
Daniel Alfredsson
Saku Koivu
Mikko Koivu
Brian Gionta
Joe Pavelski
Corey Perry

Bobby Orr
Larry Robinson
Martin Brodeur
Scott Stevens
Scott Niedermayer
Tony Esposito
Borje Salming
Serge Savard
Billy Smith

Yeah, the more-than-one-team rule certainly strips a lot of star power from this squad, which was the whole point. But it certainly doesn’t cost us all of it, as two of the five best players in history show up here in Gordie Howe (who joined the Whalers as a free agent) and Bobby Orr (who did the same with the Hawks). That duo represents a very solid start, and they’re joined by another megastar in Bryan Trottier, who went from the Islanders to the Penguins as a free agent.

From there, the depth up front is solid, featuring modern Hall-of-Famers like Mike Modano and Paul Kariya, plus Leafs legend Dave Keon thanks to his brief stint with Howe’s Whalers (and the fact that his four career trades all happened in the WHA). Things drop off from there, although I like having the Koivu brothers on the same line.

The real highlight here is the backend, featuring a blueline that includes Orr along with Larry Robinson, Serge Savard and Borje Salming, plus the reunification of the Devils pairing of Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer. (We’re not counting Stevens’ RFA mess with the Blues and Devils as a trade; if you disagree, the appeals office would be happy to hear from you.) The goaltending is also strong, with Brodeur’s shady stint in St. Louis working to our advantage. We also get Hall-of-Famer backups in Tony Esposito (who went from Montreal to Chicago in the old intra-league draft) and Billy Smith (who went from the Kings to the Islanders in the expansion draft). And even with Henrik Lundqvist’s gameless stint in Washington not counting, we still have Gerry Cheevers ready to go if we need an injury fill-in. Not bad at all.

It turns out the multiple-team rule didn’t decimate Team No-Trade after all. But will they be good enough to win it all?

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

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